Saturday, February 26, 2011

Taim falafel

I spent an hour in 23 degree (that's Fahrenheit) weather waiting for a falafel from the Taim truck that parks outside my work on Wednesday afternoons. It was only 12:20pm when we went down to get falafel and the line was HUGE. We ordered within 15 minutes but then the rest of the time we spent waiting for out food. I guess they don't have enough falafel ball fryers on board.

Was that sandwich worth the 1 hour wait in the freezing cold forcing me to lose all senses in my feet for the next few hours? Maybe not. Although I would get it again if I didn't have to wait that long. I guess we can just try to come earlier. Sadly, I must admit, I think I liked the falafel from L'As du Fallafel in Paris better...the balls are smaller and crispier but most importantly, they put tons of cabbage in your falafel which I love.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Final snapshots

My last few days in Paris in the form of pictures. Primarily food, of course. Lets start with some wine, shall we?

Assiette de fromage and wine at Le Rubis, a fantastic old low-key wine bar in the 2nd near the Tuileries

Savory chicken curry tart from Tartes Kluger in the 3rd where I brunched with MS and WD...and saw one of my Directors. Pretty well made tarts, a little overpriced but in a nice setting where you can sit and chat as long as you want at communal tables.

Tarte tatin, eclair au chocolate and a tarte fine aux pommes from Ble Sucre. The tart was amazingly light and the tarte tatin...well, see for yourself:

I don't know how the pastry chef does this but it looks like an apple! But it's actually really thin slices of caramelized apples reassembled. Amazing. And amazingly delicious.

MS brought me a chamoy apple from Texas! I'm glad she was able to sneak it past customs.

A Kouignette, or a mini kouign amann from the newly-opened Larnicol across from the Saint Paul metro. Apparently the guy is a Meuiller Ouvrier de France, a title you win at a craftsman competition held every 4 years. Basically, it's a big deal if you win one. I assume he got his for chocolate but the chocolate there, although amazing looking, wasn't all that great. What was great was the salted butter caramel pastry you see here that I devoured (apparently David Lebovitz says you should eat it warm) and the caramels which come in a ton of flavors (my favorites were the plum, coffee and speculoos ones). Also, the ability to self-serve everything helps. I have more pics but they're on my French blackberry which doesn't really work anymore and I have no idea how to put pics on my comp. If I figure it out, I will. Otherwise, meh.

Cookies I made for coworkers with the ingredients I had left over in my pantry before my move. Oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia and two types of kitchen sink cookies.

The most amazing chocolate chouquettes from one of the most ordinary pastry chains in France, Paul.

Ah, my favorites...Pierre Herme macarons. Depayse with matcha, azuki bean, lime and ginger, and Metisse with carrot, orange and cinnamon. I have still not had the famed Istaphan flavor.

Chocolate overload at Jean-Paul Hevin including a choco passion cake with a cocoa biscuit topped with passion fruit chocolate mousse and covered in dark chocolate with bits of crunchy things throughout, and a pomme de terre which is drunk raisins and candied oranges mixed with biscuits and chocolate, and enveloped in an almond-paste shell. They were actually out of a lot of pastries so we kinda had to settle...and we also had some of their hot-chocolate tastings.

I wasn't a huge's pure cocoa (no added sugar) with various additions (matcha, which tasted like grass, and raspberry coulis featured here) that apparently you're not supposed to mix in as they are already professionally done and it would ruin the taste. Huh? Yea whatevs.

Spring after everyone leaves and the beurre au lait cru and bread that they graciously gave us for free after I kept pestering the sommelier with questions about it and saying how much I loved it and how much I will miss the buvette

Finally, some pizza from Al Taglio - margarita, amatriciana, potato and truffle cream, and jambon. Pizza is sold roman-style where they cut slices of whatever size you want (ok, there's a minimum size) off a big rectangular pizza for you. Delicious, cheap and perfect for sharing.

Catered mexican from El Nopal for my going-away dinner...yay! They even made me agua de jamica and specially-requested refried beans!!!

My Paris living room with my furniture (so cute! and no those are not pineapple grenades on my couch...)

And after I moved my furniture out and put the owner's furniture back in. My stuff was waaay better.

And, lastly, my plane...

Au revoir for good now Paris! Back to the NYC!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

La Regalade Saint-Honore revisited

Confirmed. La Regalade Saint-Honore takes top honors, tied with Ze Kitchen Galerie, for my favorite sit-down restaurant dinner in Paris. Again, deliciousness, perhaps mirrored by the fact that we sat at the same exact table I had sat my first time there. Some dishes on the menu were familiar, others were not. And as much as I wanted to get the poitrin de cochon avec lentilles vertes de Puy, I didn't. The squid-ink risotto made an appearance on the menu again as well. But tonight was a night where I was going to try new stuff (mainly). And that began with a "no Morgon" rule.

After having my fill of terrine de canard et voillaile (as well as cornichons ), along came my starter of cannelloni avec legumes confits a la ricotta, parmesan, jambon cru et basilic. HUGE PORTION. It was as much as I would probably eat for lunch. Four cannellonis filled with  flavorful mix of veggies and bound by ricotta, topped with jambon cru and argula, and some surrounding drops of basic pesto. There wasn't anything that should have been amazing about it - it was simple pasta. But it just tasted so good and comforting.

The scallop dish looked mighty fine as well, although JF and SM seemed to have trouble getting the actual scallops out.

And yes, here's a starter with the ubiquitous lentils and foie gras. But the lentil soup was really really good. 

I had recommended the poitrine de cochon to AB, which was, again, a home run. 

JF and I both went for the beef which was cooked like a bourgignon. Although a little salty, it was super satisfying and I probably left half the meat on my plate, which my dining companions had no qualm about picking at. I must say, the frenchie know how to cook carrots. How to cook carrots really well. I was a huge fan.

SM had the dorade with fennel, coriander and ginger (I noticed he usually goes for fish actually...). It was pretty.

And for dessert, I couldn't not go with the pots de creme a la vanille avec coulis de fruits de passion that I had last time. It's like creamy dreamy heaven in a little pot, or two. The souffle a Grand Marnier, although impressive and citrusy, was just too eggy for me. Are souffles always so eggy tasting?

After finishing our dinner with the complimentary madeleines, I can definitely say this is a "don't miss" in Paris. The dining room is large without being overly so allowing for seating far enough apart as to still be intimate yet comfortable.  The high ceilings also help. The food is consistently delicious, the wine list isn't outrageous (a great €23 bottle of Faugeres, for example), and the service is actually quite good. And 3 courses for €33 smack in the center of Paris? I say go, now.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Rice and Beans

I've recently had people raving to me about Rice and Beans, about how cheap and good their California-Mexican food was. Centrally located in the 2nd, there's four or five seats at the counter, and a second adjoining room with two communal tables. I guess the counter seating comes from its previous life as Rice and Fish, a sushi restaurant. I was actually impressed to see not only Cholula, but also Tapatio hot sauce bottle on the table, as well as thick, paste-like homemade salsa with lots of chilis. And the menu was really promising too. I went for four tacos - one braised short rib, one fish taco (special of the day), one carnitas with salsa verde and one chorizo (also special).

And they looked so yum - artfully arranged on a plate, on mini, freshly-made tortillas. The first sign of trouble should've been the fact that these mini-tortillas were overloaded with filling. The chorizo taco was honestly delicious. It wasn't oozing the usual orange grease, but the taste was spot-on. And I guess that's what set the bar and it went downhill from there. The short rib, although fall-apart tender, were too sweet (cinnamon?). The carnitas were kinda soggy instead of the crispy edges you'd want from them. And don't even get me started on the fish taco. Bland, bland bland - so much so that even a more-than-healthy dousing of hot sauce didn't help. I took a bite and put it down. Maybe the burritos are good, I don't know. But their beans seemed to be refried pinto beans, while I prefer black beans. 

Again, might be just me talking but in general, aside from the chorizo, the hot sauces and the mini tortillas, this place is just MEH.

Sunday, February 06, 2011


I really wanted to love L'Agrume. I'm really happy that two people who have been there on separate occasions loved it enough to name it one of their favorite restaurants in Paris. But I can't say that. For me, I liked the place, I didn't love it. Maybe, like Frenchie, I hyped it up too much for myself. Or, more likely, I am just so jaded by the same type of food I always see. There is always sea bass/dorade/sea bream for the fish. There is usually duck. Invariably, there are lentils and foie gras and pork belly.

It is a pretty good deal though - 5 courses for €38-ish. We started with a celeriac veloute with black truffle oil. Creamy and probably really good if I liked celeriac more than I do. But I don't.

Following, a slice of foie gras on a bed of saucy lentils which were enhanced with game stock. I passed the foie gras on to others but the lentils were definitely a highlight of the meal. I'm a sucker for lentils. In fact I have some in the fridge right now...

And next it was the sea bass. It was definitely fishy but in a good way. Served zucchini, olives (which I picked out) and foam. What kind of foam? I don't know. AB took a bite, gagged and then to make it seems that he ate his, I ate 3/4 of mine, switched plates with him and ate most of his as well. No one noticed...

And for the meat course, veal loin serves medium with a some kind of reduction, golden raisins and carrots. The Frenchies know how to cook carrots really well.

To finish, a piece of puff pastry with bananas and creme fraiche. Yea I thought that was ice cream too but no. Full-fat creme fraiche. 

The chef runs a one-man show with just one assistant in the back who cooks and does dishes it seems and his wife is the waitress with also just one more person helping her. It's always impressive to see people run a restaurant of this caliber with so little staff, for so cheap and with high quality ingredients. I was impressed with the operation, but unfortunately not with the food.